25 May 2021
On the 25th of May 2020, 46-year-old George Floyd was murdered in a racially motivated attack by a police officer. Floyd’s tragic death moved the world, led to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, saw more than 250 demonstrations in the UK, and kick-started our #YoungAndBlack campaign. Today, some of our campaign team reflect on the year past and race relations in Britain.
“No, I don’t want to join the EDI group if it will be an echo chamber without direct links to change. No, I don’t want to discuss company diversity with a predominately white leadership team. But this year, I could not avoid it. Trust me, and I tried to. I even had moments where I wanted to un-commit myself to things. Whilst I reflect on this campaign, I also reflect on “why didn’t you?”
Yes, I believe the campaign is excellent, and the young people are extraordinary, but more than these things, highlighting the lived experiences of Black people in the UK is teaching me. It is unpicking that uncomfortable feeling that I was taught to push past. It has allowed me to unlearn behaviours that I have adapted as characteristics of my personality to make others comfortable.
This week, there will be questions such as “Have things changed?” No. “Has there been a movement towards change?” Yes. “Will this lead to sustainable change for Black people in the UK?” I hope so. We have a generation of young people who are ready and depending on it.” Shernyse Lee (she/her), Engagement and Advocacy Manager
“I’ve always found it hard to articulate my personal feelings towards the barbaric racism faced by so-called ethnic minorities. Growing I was perplexed by the number of times I ticked the ‘White and Black Caribbean’ box on forms. Why are we putting people into boxes? And is that what I am? Is that how I am to define myself? It becomes a sort of invisible prison, living your identity in a box. A box which your own family and loves ones have not put you in, but one the country you grew up in chooses to. I am seen through the ‘White and Black Caribbean’ lens. No, wait, just the Black lens; let’s be real.
The more I learn about race being a social construct, the less shackled I feel. However, despite some progress over the last year, The Sewell Report proves the UK still has a long way to go to show racial equity is more than just a box-ticking exercise.” Georgia Morian (she/her), Press and Communications Manager
White privilege is something I’ve had all my life but never really known much about. When George Floyd was murdered, it sparked anger in me, which fuelled my research into police brutality against POC and lived experiences of Black people.
I also read Queenie, as part of the UK Youth book club, which viscerally showed the over sexualisation of Black women and the abuse and harassment they receive and the mental health issues that come off the back of those horrible experiences.
I remember seeing a video of George Floyd’s daughter on her uncle’s shoulder’s saying, ‘Daddy changed the world’, and it resonated with me – he has sparked conversations and actions that needed to happen a long time ago. I know I will never understand what it is like to be a Black person and a victim of racism. Still, I can promise that I will continue to challenge anyone who brings racism into any conversation because there is no place for it in this world. It is simply insufficient just not to be racist. I am and will always be actively anti-racist.” Ellie Fox (she/her), Digital Content Officer
“I’ve learnt so much over the last year. I grew up in a bubble with people around me who all shared similar lived experience – white, middle class etc. I guess I was ignorant, unaware and uneducated – I didn’t realise the bigger picture and what was going on. Just because something is not happening to you doesn’t make it any less critical. There’s so much that still needs to happen, but I am glad conversations are being had, and there are so many good resources out there that I can use to educate myself. I hope things change for the next generation, but we all need to work together for that to happen.” Amy Jones (she/her), Social Media and Campaigns Manager
Over the last 12 months, UK Youth received countless requests from youth workers and organisations for guidance when addressing conversations around Black Lives Matter and anti-Black racism. To promote long-standing change within the youth sector, with the support of Citi, we have developed a resource. This resource is designed to support youth organisations with creating safe spaces for young people to discuss racial inequality.
Find our more here.
Rest in power, George.